Zen Fut Sai Kai, one of Singapore's oldest Chinese vegetarian restaurants, closes after 64 years

Zen Fu Sai Kai, a vegetarian restaurant located along Kitchener Road, first opened in 1953. PHOTO: LUKE OTTER

SINGAPORE - A vegetarian restaurant along Kitchener Road that first opened in 1953 has closed down after 64 years.

Zen Fut Sai Kai, said to be one of Singapore's oldest Chinese vegetarian restaurants, was known for its traditional decor and Cantonese-style dishes.

The oldest vegetarian restaurants here are Indian eateries Anandha Bhavan and Komala Vilas, which opened in 1924 and 1947 respectively.

Vegetarian food blogger Luke Otter, 30, first broke the news of the restaurant's closure last Friday (Aug 25).

"In my view, it was a cultural and historical landmark, a glimpse into the past," the British-born Mr Otter, who was in the news recently after starting his durian business, wrote in his Facebook post.

"I was lucky enough to meet the chef and staff on several occasions, and will certainly miss the food and atmosphere of this restaurant, which was one of my personal favourites."

Mr Otter, who first visited Zen Fut Sai Kai in 2011, estimated that he had eaten there more than 30 times since.

He told The Straits Times: "I was walking past the restaurant about three weeks ago when I noticed a sign at its entrance stating it was closed until further notice.

"Then I found out a Thai eatery was taking its place."

The owner of the new eatery told Mr Otter that Zen Fut Sai Kai's second-generation owner, who was in his 80s, died earlier this year.

A decision was said to be made by the family to close it as there was nobody to take over the cooking.

"It's a real shame, I don't think you can find a place quite with the same atmosphere and food like Zen Fut Sai Kai anymore," Mr Otter added.

"They even used an abacus to calculate your bill."

Kum Loo Wonton, a fried wonton stuffed with minced mushroom. PHOTO: LUKE OTTER
Sap Kum Sugarcane Flower Soup. PHOTO: LUKE OTTER

The eight-table restaurant, with its Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin) statuettes, Buddhist literature and calligraphy, was praised by local food critic KF Seetoh in a review published by The New Paper in 2010.

He described dining at Zen Fut Sai Kai as finding "veggie nirvana", noting that its simple 45-item menu had hardly changed since it first opened.

Its signature dishes included fried wontons filled with minced mushrooms, sugarcane flower soup and stir-fried kailan with mushrooms and fried mashed tofu pillow stuffed with water chestnuts.

Mango Harmony, a dish available at Zen Fu Sai Kai that consisted of fresh mango chunks stir-fried with press bean skin "chicken" and capsicums tossed in a sweet plum sauce. PHOTO: MAKANSUTRA

Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.

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